Today Rob Crosby looks at the South Sydney Rabbitohs ahead of season 2017. Can they ascend the #NRL ...
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For the third successive year the event was held at the Etihad Stadium home of Premier League football Champions Manchester City.
The total attendance for event was 64,552 the biggest in the eight year history, with a record crowd of 36,339 turning up on the Saturday and 28,214 for the second day.
Get the weekend underway was Catalan Dragons holding on as they edged past bottom of the table London Broncos 24-22. The Dragons had been struggling on the road at late and after a tight opening, the Londoners built some pressure up and they were rewarded with Mason Caton-Brown going over the line after 22 minutes.
The French outfit finally got into the game and hit the Broncos with two tries in the final ten minutes of the first half. Thomas Bosc's high kick led to Vincent Duport levelling matters up and with two minutes of the first half remaining Ben Pomeroy ‘ pass bounced off a London defender and in support was Elliott Whitehead to touchdown.
Bosc kicked his second goal as the Dragons went into the interval with a narrow 12-6 advantage. Once again the third quarter of the game was very cagey and the deadlock was finally broken on 57 minutes when Danny Lima powered over to score underneath the posts to make it 18-6.
However, the Londoners would not go away and setup a grandstand finish by scoring two quickfire tries. Scott Moore made the break and moment later Caton-Brown added a double and from the kick off the ball was put out on the full, shortly later James Greenwood scored. Josh Drinkwater converted both scores to make it 18-18.
On the seventy minutes mark Whitehead took a return pass from Michael Oldfield to give Catalan the lead once again, but in end-to-end action Drinkwater dummied his way over the line, but crucially he missed the conversion and the Dragons held on to deny London their first points of the season.
On 18 minutes Salford got on the board when Junior Sa'u muscled over the line and they took the lead moments later when good work by on-loan Wigan Hooker Logan Tomkins put Rangi Chase into a gap and he turned Rhys Hanbury inside out to score under the posts. Jake Mullaney kicked his second goal to make it 12-4.
But, the Vikings would not go away and a carbon copy pass by Brown sent Owen over and then Chris Dean added another. Unfortunately Danny Tickle could not convert and the teams went into the break all square 12-12.
Hanbury then turned villain as he lost the ball from the kick off and Danny Williams collected the ball to score. Sa'u missed the goal as Salford led 20-18.
Then next score was a spectacular effort from Hanbury. Lama Tasi lost the ball 5 meters out from the Vikings line in a heavy challenge; the Full-back collected the ball and raced the full length of the field. Tickle found his range with the touchline effort and then added a penalty goal to make it 26-20.
In a dramatic last five minutes Greg Eden sent Francis Meli over in the left hand corner, unfortunately Mullaney missed the goal and with time running out Owens scored his second try to win the game for Widnes there first at the Magic Weekend.
Game three was the Hull Derby as Rovers saw off 12 men FC 38-24. Rovers made the better start and took the lead with try from centre Liam Salter after ten minutes.
Two tries just after the twenty minute put KR in real control. Josh Hodgson created the play for Kevin Larroyer to get the first and then a great break from Travis Burns led to his half-back partner Kris Keating getting Salter over for a double. Burns kicked 3 from 3 to make it 18-0.
But, two scores from FC just before the break gave them some hope. Joe Westerman delayed pass got youngster Dean Hadley over but unfortunately the back rower was injured in the process of scoring and was carried off the field.
Just on half-time Kirk Yeaman broke and in support was Jamie Shaul to finish thing off. Jacob Miller kicked two goals to cut the deficit to 18-12 at the interval. Burns added penalty just after the resumption before Hull FC were dealt a huge blow.
On 49 minutes Jason Crookes was shown a reed card for a high shot on Salter, who then had to leave the field in a dazed state. Ade Gardner made FC pay by going over at the corner.
Howver, this galvanised FC and they setup an interesting last twenty minute when Danny Houghton and Feka Paleaaesina both touchdown as the gap was down to just 2 points.
Rovers then upped the tempo and won the game thanks tries from Gardiner and Hodgson late on to claim the local bragging rights.
Missing no fewer than seven regulars, the Warriors spent most of the first half defending their own line but against the run of play Anthony Gelling palmed the ball forward and regathered to score underneath the posts.
Matty Smith added the extras and a penalty goal to make it 8-0 then on 25 minutes after a dust up in which all 26 players were involved , Wigan ‘ Michael McIlorum and John Bateman along with Leeds ‘ Ryan Bailey were all sent to the sin-bin to cool off.
The Rhinos shortly later made the extra man count when Ryan Hall touchdown in the left hand corner. Just before the break Blake Green dummied his way through to score out wide as Wigan held a 12-4 advantage.
It was a similar story in the second half as Leeds pressed without making much impression on their opponents' watertight defence and a midfield break by Crosby took them into a position to score their all-important third try on 54 minutes.
Wigan opted to run the ball on the last tackle and McIlorum burst onto Green's short pass to touch down.
Smith's third goal opened up a 14-point lead but that was the signal for the League leaders to up the tempo.
Sinfield kicked one of the conversions as Leeds cut the deficit to just four points and Wigan, by now without the influential Green, who looks have torn his bicep, were forced to hang on desperately
A last-ditch tackle by George Williams brought down Danny McGuire in full flight and Moon had a try chalked off by the video referee for a knock-on as the Warriors held on for a hard-fought win which keeps them on the heels of Leeds and St Helens.
Day 2 got underway with Castleford Tigers overwhelming local rivals Wakefield Wildcats 50-12. After suffering back-to-back defeats, Castleford needed to get back on track but it was Wakefield who made a good start with Paul McShane held up over the line.
The Tigers got some ball in the Wildcats twenty and they took the lead when the ball was put through the hand for Daryl Clark to finish things off on 12 minutes. This gave Castleford the lift they needed as they took control of the rest of the half. Next to score was Justin Carney who powered out of three tacklers.
Clark then made a break for Jordan Tansey to score and ten minutes before the break Michael Shenton picked up a loose pass and raced 85 meters to touchdown. Marc Sneyd kicked 3 from 4 to make it 22-0 to Cas at half-time.
Eight minutes into the second half the Tigers continued their dominance as Sneyd started and finished a fine move up left. More was to follow as Grant Millington ‘ break led to Carney scoring his second in the corner as the lead went up to 34-0.
At last the Wildcats had something to cheer as substitute Pita Godinet got Nick Scruton over the line for a consolation. Frankie Mariano then added another for Castleford before Paul Sykes finished off a break inside his own twenty from Chris Riley to narrow the gap.
However, it was the Tigers day when Jake Webster sent Clark away on an 80-meter dash for the line in the final minute to bring up the fifty point mark.
The Bulls needed the win to cut the gap on third from bottom Wakefield made a good start and took the lead when an off-load from Adrian Purtell got Danny Addy over in the corner. Jamie Forster added the extras from out wide.
It did not take long for the Giants to level and Brett Ferres playing his first game since a five match suspension sent Joe Wardle over. Back came the Bulls after a repeat set the ball was moved from right to left and Adam Henry sent Foster in at the corner.
However, this led to Huddersfield upping the tempo and in the final fifteen minutes of the half they ran in three unanswered tries. Hooker Shaun Lunt crossed from dummy half then a break by Danny Brough led to Luke Robinson touching down under the posts and Jodie Broughton then raced away from 80-meters out .Brough kicked his fourth goal as the Giants led 24-10 at the break.
Both sides had tries chalked off by the video referee in the early stages of the second half but it was Huddersfield who would score next and it came courtesy of Larne Patrick making a bust through the middle with Brough in support.
Another three scores suddenly followed by Scott Grix ,Ukuma Ta'ai and Anthony Mullally, all from close range, as the Giants began to romp away with things. Brough made no mistake with the extras as the lead ballooned out to 48-10.
Larne Patrick took the score past 50 point with a simple try but at least Bradford had the final say in the game with Foster scoring his second just before the final hooter and converting from the touchline.
This was the first meeting since round 1 when St Helens took Warrington apart, but from the start the Wolves were determined to put this right as they tore into Saints.
On six minutes, after a repeat set, good work by Michael Monaghan sent Gene Ormsby over in the right hand corner. Jonny Lomax put the kick off out on the full in the goal area and from the resulting penalty Trent Waterhouse got Rhys Evans over in the other corner. Once again Chris Bridge was off target with the extras.
With little territory Saints struggled to get out of their half and on the twenty minute mark a good pass by Ben Westwood opened the defence up as Chris scored and minutes later Rhys Evans scored his second as the Wolves opened up an 18-0 lead.
St Helens got into the contest in the final ten minutes of the half and after a break by Lomax, Ormsby was sin-binned for a professional foul and the extra man counted as Luke Walsh sent big prop Alex Walmsley underneath the posts. Walsh kicked the goal to make it 18-6 at the interval.
At the start of the second half, the Wolves moved up the gears and hit Saints with three unanswered tries to effectively close out the game. Lance Hohaia went through a hole his pass went to ground and Warrington went down the other end and moved into a 24-6 lead thanks to Ryan Atkins touchdown.
But, the Saints would not go away and three minute later Jordan Tuner got over the line with Walsh reducing the gap by six points and just before the hour mark after Sia Soliola ‘ break the ball was moved through the hands and Hohaia scored the try .Walsh once again made no mistake with the extras.
It got even more interesting after another bout of sustained St Helens pressure Matt Dawson got over the whitewash and the ever reliable Walsh kicked a touchline conversion to make it 36-24.
With just over eleven minutes left Stefan Ratchford eased some Warrington nerves by adding a one pointer and then Joel Monaghan intercepted Paul Wellens pass to race 70 meters to finally end any hope for the Saints.
Super League Ladder:
* - game in hand; ^ - deducted points due to administration